My Father’s Daughter

I wrote this blog last year around this time and thought I’d share it –

Over the past few months, as I’ve been singularly focused (with varied levels  of enthusiasm) on reviving the wood on Betty Jean, my mom’s voice (spoken in tones both endearing and exasperated) swirls in my head, “You’re your father’s daughter.”

The light scratch of sandpaper has become the soundtrack to our lives.

I was on the phone with my mom over the weekend, crouched on the newly stripped bowsprit trying not to drop my phone in the water.

“Molly, I can’t really hear you, I think your phone’s breaking up.”

“The phone’s fine mom, I’m just sanding.”

[Laughing] “You’re your father’s daughter.”

As long as I can remember I’ve had a powerful affinity for boats with lots of teak, so when Betty Jean fell into our lap I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. What I realized later is that in this version of heaven, there’s an endless amount of tedious work, expensive varnish and misspent weekends. But the work is cathartic and the payoff is a boat that I can’t take my eyes off of. My dad has always spent countless hours gazing dreamily at his boats . I’ve stared along with him trying to imagine what he was imagining – islands and hammocks and rum drinks served in coconuts – but I’ve finally realized what he’s always looking at – his varnish.

Here are some before shots of the teak in the cockpit, on the toe rail and on the bowsprit. (Click to enlarge an image)


Before: Helms Seat in Cockpit


Before: Bowsprit


Unfinished toe rail compared with 5+ coats on the handrail and eyebrow

Bowsprit after a coat of Varnish Stripper

Here are some shots of the teak after it’s been stripped of its previous varnish and sanded down to bare teak: (note: it was really challenging to get an even finish because the wood is old and fraught with deep ridges where old varnish is hanging on for dear life. Unlike my dad, his brother and their dad (my grandpa Jack), I did not inherit the meticulous gene and therefore will allow that old varnish to remain).

Stripped and Sanded - Helms Seat in Cockpit

Cockpit – stripped, sanded and ready for coat #1

Cockpit – stripped, sanded and ready for coat #1

Little help from my friends

A little help from my friends

Varnishing: It takes a village

Varnishing the bowsprit – coat #1

Admiring my handy-work


Working on the companionway


You may need to put on a pair of sunglasses for this shot


Finished product – at least for another 5 months

“You’re your father’s daughter”. . . the four sweetest words you will ever hear if your dad is anything like mine.

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